I quipped with a friend who had an issue with his phone. “It’s because you bought an iPhone!” came my response to his mobile phone quagmire. It was a joke that followed the linear path of people who criticize Apple. Joking aside, I have long admired Apple because of its longevity at the top of an industry that is fast paced and changes quickly. To give perspective, in 2009, BlackBerry held around fifty percent of the U.S. phone market. By the end of 2014 it had dwindled to one percent.
Apple was one of the companies that anticipated the consumer need for touchscreen display on phones and in so doing dethroned Blackberry. At the heart of Apple’s top notch products is one thing; people. They have made people their why.
In a recent interview with Fast Company, an American business magazine which highlighted Apple as the number one most innovative company in the world, CEO Tim Cook reiterated their why which could be construed as simplistic in an industry where revenue and results are demanded at every turn.
A why is the reason or the cause for doing what you do. It’s the thing that gets you up every morning revved up to go. As we set goals for our lives it is imperative that we attach a strong why to overcome the noise of “what if”, stay the course when we hit the dip, and give meaning to the monotony of the routine. Let’s look at these three individually.
1. “What if”
In the interview, Tim Cook said that one of his roles at Apple is to block the noise from the people who are engaged in the daily work. He realized that there is more noise than change. In pursuing a goal, there is the constant noise of “what if.” What if I don’t have what it takes, what if I cannot finish it, what if they reject me, what if I don’t meet the deadline, what if I lose everything. ‘What ifs’ are so strong that they can trigger the temptation to quit in the middle of something purposeful. It’s the grim reaper of our dreams and purposes. It’s the hitchhiker that looks harmless but turns out to be a hijacker once we open the door. Your why will keep you focused on what matters most, center your energy on your priorities and silence the robber of ‘what if’.
2. When you hit the dip
Mike Tyson is credited for saying, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” This not only rings true in boxing but also in life. Tim Cook points out the “idling years” when Apple’s revenue was stagnant for a few years. This could have been scary and interpreted as loss from the outside but Apple’s CEO looked past the numbers and noticed that on the inside their processes were getting better. Sometimes we step on the scale after starting a weight loss plan and get punched in the mouth when we don’t see the expected results or worse we don’t see any change. The weight is idling. It’s in those ‘idling moments’ when we don’t see anything externally that our why gives us x-ray vision to see beyond the surface. The weight may not be changing as we would like but we take note of positive changes in better sleeping patterns, higher energy levels, and increased alertness. If appreciation in a relationship is idling even though you have put in your best, or the results in a starter business or job are idling remember your why. It will renew your passion and supply strength to take the punch and climb out of the dip.
3. In the monotony of the routine
Routine can become the enemy of momentum unless there is meaning to the monotony. Aristotle was dead on when he said, “Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” We cannot afford to see excellence as a stage. We must see it as a spirit that is nurtured in the daily routines we commit to. Excellence is the product of a routine that is grounded in a why. Routines can become boring and difficult to stick with over a period of time. Sometimes the excitement keeps us going but at some point the excitement and enthusiasm requires sustainable and renewable energy. In basketball, there is a trophy called “The Sixth Man Award.” This award is given to the player who consistently comes off the bench and gives a spark to the team. A sixth man brings the energy the team needs at the right time and can help turn the game around. When our enthusiasm wanes, the “why” acts as a “sixth man” to help perpetuate the routine that will bring the goal to realization. Let’s face it, we all get tired and worn out but if we can remember the why we will always see our way.
In conclusion, never underestimate the power of a strong why! Share with me your why in the comments section and I will cheer you on!
For your edification, you can access the interview with Tim Cook here:
Keep on Keeping on!
“Live by Design not by Default”